Here I sit at my computer yet again after finishing a trip, contemplating how to put such a great time into any sort of words. We spent 2 week in Cape Town, South Africa for the Christmas holidays staying at my in-laws house. My Dad also joined us and we strived for a lot of family time with a balance of activities and relaxation.
Because we booked so near to the departure date, our more “budget friendly” (if there is such a thing flying around the holidays) was to fly from Detroit to Washington Dulles to Dubai to Cape Town. No matter what route you choose; through Europe, the Middle East or straight into Africa with a refueling stop, flying to South Africa isn’t for the faint of heart traveler. Total time on the planes added up to about 23-24 hrs, not counting layovers and ground transportation. Think lots of naps, movies, candy and clock watching… and that’s just me, not talking on my kids. But every minute was worth it coming off the plane in Cape Town. The kids did so great on the plane and major meltdowns were kept to a minimum. Check out some new updates and ideas we got from our most recent travels here coming soon or my original post about traveling with you kids.
Cape Town in December is mid summer and schools let out for their summer breaks (the school year runs January to December). Capetonians leave the city and tourist from further inland flock for the great weather and beaches. Being my 4th trip and my Dad’s 2nd, we were not hard pressed to anything touristy. After escaping temperatures of 4 degrees F/-15 degrees C, we wanted nothing more than to spend as much time outdoors as we could and soak up the sun and warmth. We did have several outings and here were a few highlights, especially for those looking for less touristy things to do in Cape Town and how to best navigate them.
- Muizenberg Beach– This beach is known for amateurs looking to try their hand at surfing, located along the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula. The gentle rolling waves are perfect and forgiving. Boards and wetsuits are easily rented and affordable. While most beaches were packed to the gills this time of year, Muizenberg was manageable and the traffic to and from wasn’t stop and go. Add in a nice playground and a strip of open air restaurants and cafes, you can see why we made the trip twice during our stay.
- Two Oceans Aquarium in the V+A Waterfront- Yes this one is super touristy, but it was a must for us this trip because of the kids. The best tips I can give on this one is to buy tickets online (you save money that way too) and get there right when they open. We didn’t have a hard time getting around and no line to get in. As were leaving, the line was to the road and there wasn’t room to even push our stroller through the halls. It was worth a trip for sure and we will go again next trip when the new shark exhibit is open.
- Koeberg Nature Reserve– This one is way off the radar and about 40 minutes north of Cape Town. Even people living in Cape Town might look at you funny if you said you went to Koeberg. Koeberg is a nuclear power plant with an massive adjoining nature reserve open to the public. Zebra, Elon, Springbok and more roam through the nature reserve for up close viewing without fences or gates. There is a water area with many bird species. Biking and hiking trails are family friendly and take you to amazing views of the ocean and Table Mountain. Make sure you bring your passport because they will record your information upon arriving.
- Newlands Forest– Nestled into the base of Table Mountain around the University of Cape Town, this is my Mother in-law’s go to hiking starting point and I know why. Easy access, parking and many options of walks for all ages (toddlers, elderly, dogs, etc). Ian and I also used this point to run up Table Mountain several times. We took a family trip on Christmas Day to the stream that runs through the forest and the kids were in heaven splashing around.
We accomplished our goals of having a very active holiday. In total Ian and I did 2 Table Mountain runs, mountain biking in Koeberg, 3 runs around Rondebosch Common including a 5k park run, hiking up to Boomslang Caves, surfing, a drop in at Crossfit Impi, and an adventure outing in the mountains in Franschoek. Not too shabby for 13.5 days.